There are many orphanages, all across China, and not all of them participate in international adoption. At many of the facilities that do allow international placement of children, files are only prepared for the most adoptable of the children.
The hard thing about this, is realizing that many kids simply don't have files made for them.
They have no opportunity to be adopted. Read that again. No file. No opportunity to be adopted. No hope.
One place we visited, there are 2 categories of kids. I'm not even sure how one would define those categories, or who decides which each child falls into, but it was pretty clear.
One of those groups spends their days in what one team member calls "the depressing room."
It's also been referred to as "the bench room." The kids in this room just sit. All day.
We made an effort to get all these kids to the playroom.
Kids that may only get in there a few times a year.
Kids who don't know what to do in the unfamiliar surroundings.
This little guy broke my heart. His mind is there, but his legs don't work.
I watched him work hard to dump blocks and reach and scoot and clean up. It was hard, knowing that here, in a family, he would have mobility options, and he would be in school. I could tell he was bright.
Now for a grim confession. Before this trip, in my darkest times with Luke, I believed that we'd made no difference in his life. He was miserable here, screaming inconsolably, banging his head, hitting himself. I honestly thought he was one of the very few who could have just stayed in China, since there was "nothing" we could do for him.
I was wrong.
This child reminded me of Luke. In fact, I assumed she was a boy at the time.
She sat there and ground her teeth like Luke does. She did not play. As I watched her, it hit me.
Luke is well fed. He gets liquids throughout the day. He's encouraged to feed himself. His clothes are changed a couple times a day. He gets talked to. He goes to school. He has a wheelchair that allows him to get out and about. He's allowed to scoot around and play.
The kids in the bench room? This little girl above? She sits on a potty chair in split pants. All day long. That's it. The nannies don't give the kids drinks of water in order to conserve diapers. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are congee from a communal spoon.
I was so wrong.
This trip left me with a lot to process. But one realization was that, even though I couldn't be Luke's forever mom, we did make a difference in his life. That doesn't feel like "enough" yet, but I hope that someday it will.
There's so much I am still trying to wrap my head around. Looked at as a whole, the orphan problem is huge and overwhelming. Trying to be a bright spot to the child in front of you is doable.
Soon, I'll share more about some of the fun stuff we got to do on the trip. In the meantime, please take a moment to pray for the forgotten ones. The ones who will never know the love of a family. It's harder to swallow once you've held them, once you know their names. Once you've seen a dozen kids in a row trained to live on potty chairs. You can't un-know it. I don't know what I'm supposed to do about it all yet, but I know I can't do nothing.
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